Photo courtesy of DarrenHardy.Sucess.com.

I’ve been given some excellent advice over the last few days.

New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday, because as a textbook overachiever I love the chance to set goals, cross things off lists, dress up and get drunk, and generally put behind me everything that didn’t go my way.

A few hours before midnight, I spoke to a friend of mine that I respect and admire deeply, and she told me that she occasionally goes “off the grid.” Meaning that when she gets into work mode, it is completely possible, not to mention preferable, for her to completely ignore you and whatever crisis you have managed to put yourself in at the moment.

I struggled to understand how someone could be so desensitized to the needs of other people, even determining that some of them must have taken advantage of her so egregiously that she had hardened herself to the world. And then I realized.

It’s impossible to feel sympathy for someone if you never get the call.

I’m not saying to abandon people. But how many of us treat ourselves the way we do our friends? Do you drop everything when you’re upset? Do you spend more than you have trying to impress yourself? Do you offer to do nice things for yourself that you really didn’t want to do, just to be nice?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

It’s often said that for many of us, if we spoke to others the way we spoke to ourselves, we’d have a lot less friends. I think that the vast majority of us could afford to cull the crop a bit. Why should we reserve something for others that we don’t afford to ourselves? Many of our friends deserve our time, but many of them don’t, and usually the difference is clear. The resources that we dump into draining people could be used to bolster ourselves.

Think about most of the people that you do get that emergency call from. Are they real friends who would do the same for you? Or do they just know that you won’t say no?

My resolution this year was to be a little bit more selfish. I’m beginning a new phase in my life, since I’m taking on a variety of freelance and work-from-home positions and greater responsibility for my time. Since my output has a direct impact on my paycheck, not to mention my sanity, it’s crucial that I stay productive and happy. If I was truly invested in my work and my sanity, respecting my time and boundaries the way that most of us are forced to at a job, how would I even know that an acquaintance needed help?

In our over-saturated, contact-driven world, most of us have begun to lose our sense of boundaries. Everyone is a friend, as long as they request you first. Developing close relationships means prioritizing contact with certain people, and not edifying your News Feed.

Are there relationships that you need to cull this year?